If a husband or wife refuses the other’s sexual preferences…

QUESTION: (from the UK) Please, God requires Holiness for Man. I thought of our environment on how many homes are breaking down because of sex and sex satisfaction.

(1) Do Christian have restrictions to sex position? What may a husband and wife do in their inner room with regards to sex style whether dirty or horrible; i.e. anal sex, oral sex, etc.?

(2) If either the wife or husband refuse such approach (sex style) as initiated by one of them, it could lead to adultery, so what can they do?

ANSWER: Ample research exists in the scholarly journals about the relationship between sexual satisfaction and marital satisfaction. They appear to increase or decrease simultaneously. However, I have not yet seen solid research that proves causality. It seems intuitive that one affects the other (for example, decreasing sexual satisfaction leading to a decrease in marital satisfaction) but we do not know if one has more effect than the other. Therefore, questions exist about whether increasing sexual satisfaction would be more effective in increasing marital satisfaction OR whether increasing marital satisfaction would be more effective in increasing sexual satisfaction. That may seem a silly question to most, but to those of us working with marriages, the answer could be quite beneficial to our work with couples.

Your begin your question with the assumption that “many homes are breaking down because of sex and sex satisfaction.” I believe that neither sex nor sexual satisfaction cause marriages to end. Instead, sexual dissatisfaction tends to be the manifestation of underlying problems that destroy the marriage. In his book The Marriage Clinic John Gottman surveys the scholarly research about why people divorce. His conclusion is that people are motivated to divorce either because they feel disrespected, unloved, or disliked. My experience with couples indicates that sexual problems in a marriage often stem from one or both spouses feeling disrespected, unloved, or disliked.

How does that apply to your questions?

First, you ask about positions and then immediately move to “sex style.” You then refer to sex acts such as oral or anal being “dirty or horrible.” Based on my understanding of the Bible, all sexual restrictions from God sum up in three principles. 1) You may not involve anyone but your spouse. 2) You must not involve an animal (sorry to bring that up, but it’s in the Bible), and 3) you cannot do anything that harms either of you. I understand that to mean either physical, emotional, or spiritual harm. (If you wish, you can watch a video of my discussing these principles on NBC’s The Today Show here.) Therefore, any sexual position or “style” is fine for a married couple as long as it does not violate those three principles. In response to specific acts you mention: There seems to be good evidence that anal sex is harmful, so I would believe that the couple should not do that. However, I would not have the same prohibitive view of oral sex.

HOWEVER, if a marriage is to be what it should, those or any other sexual acts (or “styles” as you call them) MUST be considered in the context of whether such an act – or even the demand, cajoling, or pressure to participate — causes the other spouse to feel disrespected, unloved, or disliked. Let me illustrate. Though I believe that oral sex is fine if the couple chooses to do so, I also believe strongly that pressuring one’s spouse to participate in oral sex when s/he does not wish to do so will cause the pressured spouse to feel disrespected. That with time may well lead to feeling disliked and unloved. Therefore, though the act in itself would not be sinful, the effect of demanding, pressuring, cajoling, and the like will have very bad consequences on the marriage.

If you find yourself frustrated by what I just wrote, it likely stems from your desire to do certain things sexually and your spouse’s refusal. Am I saying that you should just forget it and be frustrated for the rest of your life?


Maybe not.

Unless your requests or desires go beyond the three principles I shared with Lester Holt on The Today Show, I think the reluctant spouse also has a responsibility to deal with his/her reluctance if at all possible. Why? Because the spouse who wants to do those acts may also feel disrespected, unloved, or disliked because the reluctant spouse refuses.

That, in my opinion, is why sexual problems lead to divorce. It’s not really about the sex per se. It’s about one or both mates feeling disrespected, unloved, or disliked. That answers the second question you asked about whether refusal leads to adultery. If a person has a sexual compulsion problem, then, yes, refusal may lead to adultery. However, it is much more likely that if the frustrated spouse strays, it will be because s/he finds another relationship where they feel loved or respected.

So, what is the answer?

I have one. Unfortunately, I do not have the space here to share it.

So, here is my offer. We are at this moment preparing to film six hours of DVD teaching on the subject. If the Lord wills, well before the end of this year we will offer this kit for a couple to use at home to either enhance their good sex life together and/or overcome any sexual problems they have in their relationship. It is full of solid and proven scientific sexual information that is also in harmony with our Christian beliefs. The kit consists of DVDs, insightful workbooks, AND specific methods for a couple to use so that EACH person IS respected as they develop a fulfilling and fantastic sex life together.

If you are interested, watch this blog or friend me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/joebeamfanpage.




  1. Ed


    While you say neither sex nor sexual satisfaction causes marriages to end, it can be a contributing factor. Oxytocin, or the so called love hormone, is released during sex, as well as other activities, such as breast feeding, rubbing your dog, etc. without oxytocin, spouses will likely drift apart.

    So while sex, or lack of, may not cause a marriage to end, it can cause a downward spiral that pushes people apart.

    See http://www.youramazingbrain.org/lovesex/sciencelove.htm or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxytocin

    • joebeam

      Yes, Ed, oxytocin is very important. I teach about it when I teach my sex classes. Forgive me if I sounded as if I did not think that sexual problems / satisfaction are contributing factors. Of course they are. My point is that these and other matters lead people to one or more of the BIG THREE – feeling unloved, disliked, or disrespected. I am convinced that sex is a crucial part of the marriage relationship and should be fulfilling for both spouses. God commanded it.

  2. stephanie bunch

    Information why my husband rejects sex always has excuses

  3. Robin Connell

    Have you completed the DVD set that you referenced above? If so, what is the name of it and where can I purchase it?

  4. Amy

    My husband just plain refuses me sex, this has been going on for 45+ years. He won’t even talk or associate with me. He completely ignores and avoids me at all costs.
    I had sex once on my wedding night that never happen again.
    He eats, sleeps and lives in our basement, I have the upstairs.
    Its been horrible and should have left years ago, but being stupid and bull headed I didn’t. In my 60s now and really don’t care any more.

  5. Amy

    My husband refused sex, intimacy, sleeping with me, dinner, talking, for over 45 years. He recently moved to his new garage from our basement with his big shop, his cars and his new apartment. Hes just a selfish ignorant horrible person who requires no one in his life.